BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

Accessibility help
Text only
BBC Homepage
BBC Radio
BBC Radio 4 - 92 to 94 FM and 198 Long WaveListen to Digital Radio, Digital TV and OnlineListen on Digital Radio, Digital TV and Online

Radio 4 Tickets
Radio 4 Help

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!


Go to the Listen Again page

Listen to Excess Baggage for

10 MAY 2008

John Hemming
first visited the Amazon in the early sixties and despite one of his companions being killed by a local tribal hunting party.  He went on to revisit the Amazon many times, initiating research into the ecology of the rainforest and writing many books on the indigenous peoples. 

John McCarthy meets the great explorer to hear about his relationship with the river and its forests.  They discuss the Amazon’s future as pressure increases to provide raw materials for the world’s ever expanding population.

Botswana has been brought to people’s attention in recent years through the novels of Alexander McCall Smith. But what is the reality behind the image?

Robyn Scott was brought up in Botswana where her father worked as a flying doctor and Robyn Cox went there to share business skills with the burgeoning commercial community.  They talk about their experiences of a land which has avoided many of the troubles of its neighbours and where there remains much to be discovered.

Presented by John McCarthy

Okavango Delta - Botswana Africa (photographer: Martin van Triest ©)

Photo: Okavango Delta - Botswana, Africa
(photographer: Martin van Triest ©)

This week’s guests: 

Robyn Scott was born in the UK but lived in New Zealand until the age of six when her parents moved to Selebi–Phikwe a tiny town in the east of Botswana which existed because of the local copper nickel mine. Robyn and her younger siblings were educated by their mother at home in Botswana where her father ran a flying doctor practice. Twenty Chickens for a Saddle is Robyn’s account of her childhood life.

Twenty Chickens for a Saddle: The Story of an African Childhood
Publisher: Penguin Press
ISBN-10: 1594201595
ISBN-13: 978-1594201592

Robyn Cox is originally from Melbourne and was civil servant in education. She met Alan in South Africa when he was management consultant in health care. They were working here in the UK when Alan thought that he’d like to do something to share what he had learnt in the course of his career.
They were posted to Botswana by Skillshare an organisation which utilises western skills in less developed parts of the world. Robyn and Alan also travelled to the Kalahari Desert, the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park and the Limpopo River.

Pula, Pula, Pula: Two Years in Search of Money, Rain and Blessings for Botswana
Publisher: Wild Dog Publishing
ISBN-10: 0955777801
ISBN-13: 978-0955777806

John Hemming is an explorer, author and a business man and is a former director of the Royal Geographical Society. John first visited the Amazon in 1960 when he went to Peru.  The following year as a member of the Iriri River Expedition and with the help of three Brazilian mapmakers they charted several unknown forests and rivers in unexplored central Brazil.  In the late eighties John personally led the Maraca Rainforest Project in Brazil which, with two hundred scientist and scientific technicians, became the largest research project in Amazonia studying the ecology of the rainforest.

John’s recently published his latest book Tree of Rivers: The Story of the Amazon; It charts the history and adventures of those who have, over the centuries, ventured to the Amazon for various purposes.

Tree of Rivers: the Story of the Amazon
Publisher: Thames & Hudson Ltd
ISBN-10: 0500514011
ISBN-13: 978-0500514016

The BBC cannot be held responsible for
the content of external sites


John McCarthy John McCarthy is a widely travelled journalist and presenter with a particular interest in the Middle East.
Listen Live
Audio Help
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Tell us about your travel experiences. e-mail Excess Baggage 
Find out about the 2007 winner and listen to their programme
Excess Baggage
Current Episodes
Archived Episodes
Current Programmes
Archived Programmes
News & Current Affairs | Arts & Drama | Comedy & Quizzes | Science | Religion & Ethics | History | Factual

Back to top

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy